C. S. Lewis as an Imaginative Apologist

Why was C.S. Lewis so successful as an apologist? Why does he continue to be so influential?

One of the reasons C. S. Lewis was successful as an apologist because he recognized the necessary place of the imagination in the defense of Christianity – and because he was able to draw on his work as a literary scholar and literary critic in his apologetics work. In these short interview podcasts, HBU Apologetics faculty Dr. Michael Ward and Dr. Holly Ordway explore some aspects of Lewis’s imaginative apologetics.

Dr. Holly Ordway discusses Lewis’s essay “Is Theology Poetry?”  and in another essay chat, Lewis’s famous essay “Sometimes Fairy Stories Say Best What’s to Be Said.”

And, Dr. Michael Ward talks about Lewis’s important contribution to English literature, in this interview about the Lewis Memorial in Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey.


The Legacy of CS Lewis: Michael Ward on the Lewis Memorial in Westminster Abbey

On November 22, 2013, the 50th anniversary of his death, C.S. Lewis will join a 600-year-old fellowship of the greats: Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, London. He will join Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Austen and other figures of worldwide literary and artistic fame – a significant recognition of Lewis’s contribution to English letters.

cs-lewis-1Dr Michael Ward, director of HBU’s C.S. Lewis Centre, is the lead organizer of the C.S. Lewis in Poets’ Corner Memorial. He was recently interviewed by Lancia Smith about this Memorial and why it’s important.

What is Lewis’s legacy? 

Michael Ward: “It’s too big and too varied to speak about in just a short answer.  You only need to look at the huge numbers of books and articles that are published about Lewis every year to see the size of it.  Some people dislike Lewis intensely.  Some people simply disagree with him.  But the vast majority of those who engage with him seriously, find him stimulating, helpful, even inspiring in a number of different ways, as a scholar, as a thinker, and as a writer.

“I think that, as time goes by, people are coming to realize that Lewis, whether you happen to agree with him or not, is a very substantial figure who needs to be reckoned with.  His combination of intellect, imagination, and faith is rare.  It’s influential.  At the very least, it’s interesting.  Continue reading

Considering Studying Apologetics? FAQ Part 1: What Job Can I Get?

Over the past year at HBU, I’ve gotten a lot of great questions about doing an MA in Apologetics. Why should someone study apologetics? What can you do with an apologetics degree? What’s distinctive about HBU’s program? Since, as a teacher, I know that if one person asks a question, a lot of other people in the room are probably thinking the same question, I’ve decided to do a series of posts on Frequently Asked Questions. Here goes with the first one! “What kind of job can I get with an MA in Cultural Apologetics?” Continue reading

CS Lewis on Reason and Imagination in Science and Religion – Dr Michael Ward

HBU Apologetics is delighted that Dr. Michael Ward has joined our full-time faculty as Professor of Apologetics and director of HBU’s new CS Lewis Centre in Oxford, England. Based primarily in Oxford, Dr Ward will teach online and travel to Houston regularly, as he did this spring to teach on “CS Lewis and Imaginative Apologetics”.

On route to Houston, he stopped in New York to do a lecture for Cornell University, on “CS Lewis on Reason and Imagination in Science and Religion.”

From the description of the talk:

Although he was a literary historian, not a scientist or a theologian, C.S. Lewis has much to say of interest regarding the interface between science and religion because of his scholarly study of the sixteenth century and, in particular, of the imaginative effects of the Copernican revolution. He regards science, properly speaking, as a subset of religion. He believes science to be a fundamentally imaginative enterprise. He argues that scientific statements, because they tend to be univocal and strive to be verifiable, are actually rather small statements, all things considered. He argues that there is always a mythology that follows in the wake of science and that both scientists and non-scientists should take care not to put excessive weight on particular scientific metaphors. We should hold our scientific paradigms with a due provisionality, because new evidence may always turn up to overthrow those paradigms. Even the best and most long-lasting paradigm is merely a lens or linguistic stencil laid over reality, not reality itself. This humility in relation to the facts about the physical universe is a virtue similar to the one we should exercise before the mystery of God.

Good Friday and Holy Saturday: Waiting for the Resurrection

Saturday in Holy Week – in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, it seems like just a placeholder. Why then does the Church call it Holy?

On the Friday we call Good, our Lord laid down his life for us; went to the Cross in love, and there took on all the weight of the world’s sin, and death too, all for us. He died. His heart was pierced by the centurion’s spear, and blood and water poured out. His lifeless body was taken down, covered in blood and sweat, cradled in his mother’s arms, and then, hastily, wrapped up and placed in the tomb.

And there in the tomb he lay: in  utter passivity, in the complete helplessness of death, resting with absolute and complete trust in his Father who would raise him on the third day.

And so, let us not rush ahead to Resurrection Sunday. Our Christian life is full of waiting on God, and trusting in His timing, but waiting is difficult. Let us wait with our Lord.

The Christian life is also, very often, difficult. Let us wait with our Lord, and remember that there is no place that he cannot find us: no pain too intense, no depression too dark, no weakness too complete. I do not need to reach up to him (I may not have the strength). I may not even have strength enough to hope or wish for him to come to help me. But there is no depth of weakness too deep for him. 

The unshakeable fact is that our Lord has gone before us, and opens up the way to lead us through. Not around, but through.

He knows what it is to be helpless, for he lay helpless in the tomb, that Holy Saturday. He knows what it is to trust entirely and absolutely to another, for so he trusted himself to the Father. He has been there; he knows the way.


Dr. Holly Ordway is a poet, academic, and Christian apologist. She is the chair of the Department of Apologetics and director of the MA in Cultural Apologetics at Houston Baptist University, and the author of Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith. Her work focuses on imaginative and literary apologetics, with special attention to C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams.

Public Apologetics: Introvert Edition

Over the past few years I’ve noticed that many Christians have a certain sense of performance anxiety from hearing a few too many conversion stories and personal testimonies. Should I have led X number of people to Christ by now? Christians who have been studying apologetics are often particularly gripped by anxiety: shouldn’t I be Doing Something Important to Save Souls with this knowledge?

The answer is that yes, we should share our faith, and yes, we should make use of apologetics knowledge — but there are many ways to do so. One size does not fit all. Continue reading

What Does it Mean to Be Human?

What does it mean to be human? This is a question that apologists must be prepared to answer; and we must be ready to help people live in ways that honor life, in the midst of a culture that is… shall we say, problematic in its understanding of human life. Let’s take a look at some of the issues at hand. Continue reading

Conversion: Christmas and Epiphany with TS Eliot

We all know the story of the Three Kings, even if only from the chorus of “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” However, Holy Scripture does not call these men kings, but rather magi, “wise men from the east” (Matthew 2:1) Their story reminds us that Christmas is a call to conversion, if we will only hear it.

T.S. Eliot, arguably the finest poet of the 20th century, converted to Christianity as an adult. The poem “The Journey of the Magi” was written shortly after his conversion; an imaginative extrapolation of what the magi experienced on their journey to see the infant Christ, it is also an extended metaphor for the journey to faith in Christ. Continue reading

Thanksgiving: A Sonnet

One of the particular things I was giving thanks for is the fellowship of friends, and especially of my poet friends. This particular poem also reflects my admiration for Charles Williams and his theological thought as well as his literary productions. Specifically there are nods here to Descent into Hell and Many Dimensions.I wrote this sonnet on (and for) the holiday of Thanksgiving, but with the idea of giving thanks in general, bearing in mind the call in Scripture to give thanks in all circumstances. One of the particular things I was giving thanks for is the fellowship of friends, and especially of my poet friends. This particular poem also reflects my admiration for Charles Williams and his theological thought as well as his literary productions. Specifically there are nods here to Descent into Hell and Many Dimensions. Continue reading

Was Jesus Married? by Dr. Mike Licona

A few years ago, the “was Jesus married?” question made the rounds of popular culture because of Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code. Recently the question made the news again because of an alleged ancient manuscript fragment referring to Jesus’ wife — a fragment that turned out to be a modern fake. In this piece, Dr. Mike Licona tackles the question of whether Jesus could have been married.

Continue reading

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